UH students help fight hunger with ‘Souperbowl of Caring’ campaign
To help fight hunger and poverty, some students are helping out with the greater Houston area’s “Souper Bowl of Caring” campaign, a movement held nationwide before the Superbowl for 30 years.
The Souper Bowl of Caring encourages schools and youth organizations to collect food for the hungry. Food donated through UH will go toward stocking The Personal Early Educational Performance Support Pantry: a University resource providing free food, toiletries and supplies to UH students without food security.
“Unfortunately, nearly half of college students nationwide experience food insecurity as they try to complete classes, work and pay for school,” said College of Education Dean Bob McPherson. “As educators, we recognize the importance of helping students reach their goals, and the pantry allows us to provide extra support and compassion so the students can focus on their academics.”
PEEPS pantry is coordinated on campus by Student Success Adviser Laura Lee, who has a passion for hunger relief.
Lee started the pantry in 2017 after realizing the need around her. The pantry had 23 visits in its first semester, but has since seen its numbers skyrocket to 345 visits from students last year. Lee hopes these numbers will continue to rise.
“The largest challenge the pantry faces is students recognizing that food security is an issue more prevalent than they may think,” Lee said of the coming year. “We hope that they take advantage of the pantry much the same vain as they view and utilize financial aid.”
Students and Lee helped fight this hunger by attending a media launch event on Jan. 8 for the Souper Bowl of Caring to help pack food and watch as area leaders and other students celebrated the start of the event.
“The Souper Bowl of Caring not only raises donations, but it also brings together a community of people who want to help those in need,” said human development senior Anoosha Kardia, who attended the event. “It’s really beautiful to see what can happen if we work together.”
Human development and family studies senior Ciera Mathis is an intern with PEEPS Pantry, and a prior PEEPS mentor. Mathis is a single mother of two and uses the pantry to help offset costs. She said the pantry can be a helpful resource and recommends it for students in need.
“Never be afraid of seeking assistance,” Mathis said. “The University has many great resources students never use. Use them. It can mean the difference between gas and food.”
PEEPS Pantry is available to all students with a valid student ID, and is entirely donation-based. Students wanting to donate items, time, or funds can reach Laura Lee at the pantry in Farish Hall, Room 160, or can visit their website at any time.
On Jan. 21st, the University, pairing with the Houston Food Bank, will reveal the “Cougar Cupboard”, a similar food emergency option for more sustained assistance throughout the semester.
Cougars will have the opportunity to give back by fighting the food insecurity around them throughout the year, and particularly in the coming month. Donations are being accepted for the Souper Bowl of Caring till the Super Bowl itself, but students are encouraged to donate to PEEPS Pantry all year long.
“I’m challenging all the organizations, departments, colleges, students, staff, and faculty to go big and donate so we can report back to the Souper Bowl of Caring that UH cares… because students cannot learn when they are hungry.” Lee said.